|Demand of the question
Introduction. What are farmers organisations?
Body. Methods used by the farmers organisations to influence the policy-makers. Effectiveness of these methods.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Farmers organisations refer to group of farmers who are organised to protect their own interests related to issues like minimum support price, subsidies, welfare schemes for farmers etc. For example, Bharathiya kisan Sabha, shetkari sangatan, Karnataka raitha Sangha etc are some farmer organisations. Farmers’ organisations are seen as a useful organisational mechanism for mobilising farmers’ collective self-help action aimed at improving their own economic and social situation and that of their communities. Such organizations are perceived to have the ability to generate resources, mobilise support and exert pressure with the help of their members.
Methods used by the farmers organisations to influence the policy-makers:
- Awareness generation: They try to gain public support and sympathy for their goals and their activities by carrying out information campaigns, organising meetings, filing petitions, etc. Most of these groups try to influence the media into giving more attention to these issues.
- Lobbying: Powerful farmers groups like sugarcane farmers of Maharashtra and UP try to influence policy making in their favour like getting favourable MSP and payment of arrears.
- Protest: They often organise protest activities like strikes or disrupting general administration. These protests of late have centred around issues like loan waiver, higher MSP, free electricity, etc. The recent farmers’ march to Delhi under the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh banner was such an example.
- Activism: This method includes publicising important issues, petitioning courts, preparing draft legislation and gaining public attention in matters related to farmers like issues pertaining to GM crops.
- Fast unto death protests: Farmers normally resort to these protests when their moderate protests didn’t satisfy their demands. For example protests by Tamil Nadu farmers in the national capital last year.
- Other methods: Sometimes they resort to other types of protests like throwing their crops on the road in case of low prices, blocking railways etc.
- Recent trends: Farmers organisations recently have also employed innovative ways like spilling milk and vegetables on highways or appearing to consume dead rats, soil and urine at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar etc.
Effectiveness of these methods:
The above methods have been partially successful:
Positive outcome of these efforts:
- Farmers’ associations have been able to get concessional benefits like loan waivers and higher MSPs in past. For example, the governments of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan waived loans off immediately after coming to power.
- Pressure of farmers organisations has led to government to take initiative for farmer welfare like PM KISAN.
- It has led to awareness in general about the plight of farmers and has helped them to garner wide support for them in the society.
- These methods have helped in exposing the poor state of farmers in India and has led to reforms like better credit facilities, Jan Dhan Yojana etc.
Although there has been limited success such methods has not led to removal of structural issues.
- In a situation of impending unrest the government often takes to populist measures instead of employing a solution which is good for the nation and the farmers in the longer run.
- The government often takes short term respite such as farm loan waiver, higher MSP, cash transfers in farmers’ accounts, etc.
- Even if the government resorts to such populist measures its effective implementation is often absent. For example, rise in MSP is of no use if there lack of infrastructure to procure grains from the hinterland or if the masses are unaware of such a scheme.
- Moreover, several policy recommendations have not been implemented as the government is not fully aligned with the suggestions. For example, the Swaminathan Committee recommendations is yet to be fully implemented.
- But in some cases, farmers’ demands were met very quickly. For example, protests by farmers in Punjab against case filed by PEPSICO on patent related issues was quickly withdrawn by the company.
Farmers organizations certainly play a huge role in acting as true representative of farmers problems to the policy makers. Unfortunately, their effectiveness has been limited due to various reasons. Although organising the protest and mobilising support help in gaining the attention of the public and the government, it can be argued that they have resulted in little on the ground.